Tummy Troubles? Probiotics Can Help
The word “bacteria” traditionally conjures up fears of a catching a cold, the flu or worse—sicknesses like salmonella and E. coli. While some types of bacteria are bad for us (like E.coli and salmonella), there’s also good bacteria, known as probiotics, that can help your body break down food and aid in nutrient absorption. Adding healthy probiotics to your diet can have an effect on many other aspects of your wellbeing as well—from large matters like your immune system to skin conditions like acne.
Ready to add some good bacteria to your daily diet? The six foods below are all a great place to start!
Yogurt is made by bacteria and, if you choose one that contains active or live cultures, they’ll help aid everything from digestion to eliminating inflammation. Not a big fan of the stuff? You don’t have to eat spoonful after spoonful until you’re bored with it: yogurt works great as a base for parfaits, sauces, dressings and dips.
Want an even quicker fix? Try kefir—it’s a milk drink fermented with cultures of lactic acid bacteria that have grown big enough that you might mistake them for cauliflower. That might not sound appetizing, but the end result is a pleasing, subtly carbonated, smoothie-like texture that’s high in protein, and tastes great blended with fruit.
You don’t have to find a specialty store to improve your gut health. You know that lonely jar of sour pickles in the back of your fridge? They may contain a ton of probiotics. If you’re looking to add some probiotics to your diet, be sure to look for pickles in the refrigerated section. Avoid pickles that are sold on shelves at room temperature. These varieties are usually made with vinegar, which doesn’t allow good bacteria to grow.
Sauerkraut is a centuries-old staple that dates back to a time when fermentation was a popular method of food preservation. While the fermented shredded cabbage might be too strong in flavor for everyone to eat directly, if you get a little creative, it’s a great way to add a zesty sour note to your next salad or slaw. But get the unpasteurized kind; processing will ruin its probiotic value.
Kimchi is like sauerkraut’s hipper, spicier cousin. While it’s a traditional, even ancient, dish in its home country, Korea, the fermented cabbage is pretty trendy in western fusion cuisine. You’ll have no trouble getting your dose of probiotics on a night out while still adding to your foodie cred.
Miso soup, often taken for granted as the complementary first course at sushi restaurants, packs more nutritional value than your California and Dragon rolls combined. Miso paste, made from fermenting soybeans with koji (a type of fungus) and the simple addition of hot water, creates a soup—packed with fiber, protein and probiotics. Plus, it’s easy to make on your own and miso paste can be purchased at most grocery stores.
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